With everything going on in the world today it seems like we are all looking for little victories or little things to look forward to. For whatever reason, one of my favorite things to do each day is going to the mailbox. Over the prior months, Francis has started to join me, and this is our little daily tradition.
As we open the front door, we excitedly talk about what we could find, letters from afar, maybe a note from a friend. However, more times than not it is filled with junk mail, an occasional bill as well as letters from organizations asking for financial support. Our family has been living in our house for over three years and we are constantly receiving mail addressed to the prior owner. While I do not know the postal service forwarding rules, I would think the organizations might realize the individual has not made any contributions in years.
We also receive a lot of mail addressed to the ‘Zeches family’ and the ‘current resident’. Many of these organizations sending letters to the ‘current resident’ not only send a letter but also a little knick-knack. Sometimes it is a pocket calendar, other times personalized return mailing address labels and even sometimes a nickel. Charities have done extensive research and can very accurately calculate how much in donations they will receive with each mailing.
When we receive the letters from the organizations, Francis and I open each one to see what the knick-knack will be. Sometimes Francis keeps the items, while other times he decides to throw them away. The nickels though go right into his piggy bank as he is trying his hardest to get the piggy bank filled up. He is not sure what he is going to do with the money, but we tell him he can buy something he wants, save it for something bigger, or give it away to help others. At age four, Francis is still a bit young to completely understand the options, but Katie and I think it is important we start teaching him from a young age. Even though he is four, Francis has the same options, we as adults have, meaning he can spend, save, or give.
With the end of the year quickly approaching, giving thanks, and thinking of others starts to come top of mind. For example, in Arizona, this may mean contributing to various organizations to take advantage of tax credits available to all Arizonians with a state income tax liability. If you have not already, you should contact your tax professional to discuss these credits. However, for many of our clients, we have found people are looking for ways to give beyond the tax credits. These individuals want to enhance the gifts to the charities and make a greater difference.
With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away many people are realizing that it is going to be a bit different than normal this year. Maybe people will not be traveling, and Zoom will be replacing in-person gatherings and meals. No matter how it is accomplished, I know people will find a way to make Thanksgiving special.
As you think about topics for Thanksgiving 2020 discussions, I wanted to provide some ideas as you look for ways to give now and into the future:
- Have a virtual family gathering to talk about philanthropy
– Plan a time to talk about what giving means to you and your family. Give examples of ways you have given in the past. Consider coming up with a family giving pledge.
- Get the entire family involved
– Using a family giving pledge, have family members, including children and grandchildren, come with ideas on who and why to give. Make them a part of the grant-giving process. It does not only need to be financially as there could be ideas to volunteer one’s time in the community.
- Think of ideas for future giving
– While most organizations will most certainly welcome monetary donations, also consider gifts of your time or items you may no longer need. You might even discuss who will lead the family gift-giving for years to come.
Now I realize these ideas are less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. I thought it was important to share as you consider what Thanksgiving could look like and to give you ideas of topics during either an in-person or virtual celebration.
There are numerous ways to give and if you would like to discuss your options and additional ways to give, please let me know so as we can prepare for this conversation during our next regular progress meeting.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Chris Zeches, CFP®